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About Professor Paul Bissell, BA (Econ), MA (Econ), PhD, FHEA, CMgr FCMI

Role and Responsibilities

As Pro Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation, I am responsible for driving forward the University’s research and knowledge exchange strategy and outcomes. As a member of the Senior Executive Team (SET) and Senior Leadership Team (SLT), I ensure that the research and knowledge exchange strategy is consistent with the current Citizen Student Strategy.

Alongside teaching and learning, one of the core functions of the University is research and knowledge exchange. My responsibility as Chair of the Research & Knowledge Exchange Committee is to lead on improvements to our Research Excellence Framework (REF) outcomes, whilst also building on the solid foundations of our Knowledge Exchange Framework results. Driving forward the work of the University’s four Research and Knowledge Exchange Institutes (Culture & Society, Environment & Sustainability, Health & Wellbeing and the Regional Economy) is key to maintaining improvements in these twin areas.   

In line with the Citizen Student Strategy, it is also my responsibility to ensure that all students (undergraduate, postgraduate and postgraduate research) enjoy a consistently excellent and academically challenging experience with respect to their exposure to research and new knowledge creation whilst studying at the University.

A key element of my role is to demonstrate that our research and knowledge exchange activities fit with the needs of local and regional stakeholders and communities. This includes working closely with regional boards and statutory and voluntary bodies to ensure that our research and knowledge exchange activities are congruent with stakeholder requirements.

Career Background

In terms of my own background, I’m both a researcher and an educationalist. Until 2021, I was Dean of the School of Human & Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield, and prior to that I was Director of the Public Health Section, University of Sheffield. As Dean, I was responsible for driving forward student experience outcomes and leading on improvements to research and knowledge exchange activities, with specific reference to REF2021.

I remain an active researcher, having authored over 120 peer reviewed publications and my interests span public health, the health sciences and medical sociology. I am well-networked in the area of public health, both regionally and in Europe.

I am also an educationalist and recognise the strong links between teaching and research. In the recent past I developed and run a series of postgraduate Public Health courses with European partners through the Erasmus+ programme and was involved in the Medical Undergraduate teaching at the University of Sheffield. I continue to teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and to supervise PGR students in my areas of expertise.   

Areas of Professional Expertise

During my career, I have been fortunate to take forward my twin interests around teaching and learning and research and knowledge exchange. In relation to the former, have a particular interest in understanding the barriers and opportunities to widening participation in higher education. I am also interested in how we engage students in relation to issues around social inequality and health outcomes. My research interests focus on how social inequality impacts health experiences and outcomes, and in the recent past I have published on how we might understand the social gradient in obesity and alcohol use. I am currently involved in an active research project with colleagues from the University of Sheffield and Edge Hill University exploring the complex aetiology of non-epileptic attack disorder, a functional neurological condition.